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Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist ended season two with a real bang that we, somehow, did not see coming, even as most of the season was spent setting it up perfectly. Max (Skylar Astin) now has the heart song powers! What?!
Zoey (Jane Levy) and Simon (John Clarence Stewart) had broken things off, and her grand romantic gesture of chasing Max to the airport fizzled out when she saw what she thought was him singing a heart song to Rose (Katie Findlay). But then, when everyone but Zoey appeared to be happily moving on with their lives and Zoey was contemplating her future on a park bench, Max showed up.
Turns out he was still always thinking about Zoey, and Rose could tell he was distracted. He's now all-in on Zoey, despite the fact that she'll always know what he's thinking and he won't know what she's thinking. But that, apparently, will not be an issue anymore.
Her declaration of love was interrupted by the opening notes of Modern English's "Melt With You," followed by a completely baffled expression on Max's face. Zoey then sang her first official heart song, and we freaked the f out.
We then got on the phone with series creator Austin Winsberg and begged him to explain what just happened, what it means and how it happened, and it turns out it all has a lot to do with that dream sequence featuring Zoey's dad Mitch (Peter Gallagher). Here, in full, is what he said:
"We spent a lot of time this season and even in season one talking about the inequality in Zoey and Max's relationship. He felt like there was something inherently unfair about the fact that she could hear his heart songs and know what's going on in his heart and his brain, but he couldn't do the same with her, and they had many fights and conversations about that where we're clearly, in our minds, planting the seed for what was to come."
"Then she has this moment in [the finale], where she has this talk with her father, and he talks about how he is part of the universe now and there's been a lot of talk this season where Zoey's screaming at the universe, and 'Why is the universe doing this to me?' And Mitch infers that maybe he has something to do with everything that's going on with her, and maybe that the universe is doing all of this for a reason. And the last thing she says before Max gets the power, is she talks about the universe. And then she sings him a song. So, certainly from my perspective, part of him getting the power now is so that he could get an insight into Zoey, and that for once there can actually be real equality in their relationship.
"I don't know if relationships can really succeed unless there's some equality on both sides. I feel like for Max and Zoey to really move forward, he needed to get the power to really understand what's going on with her. And, on top of that, I think there's a lot of great romantic comedy to be mined out of what happens when you're with somebody and you both know exactly what's going on in the other person's head."
Now, there's a lot to unpack there, starting with an explanation for Zoey's powers. It certainly makes a lot more sense for her dad and the universe to be responsible than an earthquake and an MRI machine, and it opens up a whole world of possibilities for season three. The powers could evolve in any number of ways, and have even more meaning as the show goes forward.
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"There was something that really resonated to me about the idea that we don't always know why things are happening to us, and we don't always know good or bad, we can't see the forest for the trees or the big picture outside of it," Winsberg says. "And I liked the idea that while these things might be challenges to Zoey in the moment, maybe these challenges were actually like a path towards recovery, and that maybe her father could help her in some way to get out of her grief to get her to focus on others and to focus on other things. It felt like a nice way to feel connection between the two of them, and to also give an idea that there's a higher power out there that's looking out for us."